2019 Top 50 Distributors: What we learned from the data
With all the mergers and acquisitions happening in the print and promo space, it can feel like the industry is contracting, not expanding. But with fewer players in the game, the next big win is up for grabs for innovative distributors. From our vantage point, 2019 proved to be quite the year for many of these marketing service providers. According to Print+Promo’s data, overall revenue for the Top 50 Distributors submissions was $3.83 billion, a 7.1 percent increase over 2018’s $3.58 billion.
Of the 43 distributors returning from last year’s Top 50:
- 20 had revenue increases, with 10 posting at least double-digit percentage growth. The largest percentage sales increase belonged to QRG (31.6 percent).
- 11 had revenue decreases.
- 2 finished evenly.
Those who have been tracking our lists will recognize the familiar names comprising the top five. There were no surprises in regard to rank order, though it is worth pointing out the respective double-digit percentage increases of American Solutions for Business, with sales up by 10.2 percent, and iPROMOTEu, with sales up by 13.3 percent.
The 2019 list was missing some notable entries, starting with previously 16th-ranked Fontis Solutions, a Safeguard Company, that has since rebranded to Deluxe Branded Marketing – Irvine, and previously 26th-ranked USFI, now called Deluxe Branded Marketing – Dallas. Other missing distributors were Graphic Information Systems Inc. (2018: No. 41); PerfectPartner Business Solutions (2018: No. 45); Safeguard Solutions (2018: No. 49); and International Printing Solutions (2018: No. 50). While their absence was felt (collectively, those companies earned $84.6 million), it created room for six new companies—two of which, Fully Promoted/EmbroidMe and The Sourcing Group, rounded out our top 10. Also of note, the newcomers’ combined total was $259.1 million, so we gained $174.5 million. Give a warm welcome to Stran & Company Inc. (No. 21); ABC Printing Company (No. 42); Advanced Business Graphics Inc. (No. 44); and Millennium Marketing Solutions Inc. (No. 47).
Check out the full 2019 Top 50 Distributors list here.
In the meantime, here are extra stats we saw in our analysis:
- Of the 53 principal officers listed (several companies listed two) for the Top 50 Distributors, 46 were men and seven were women.
- In all, 22 U.S. states were headquarters to at least one distributor in the Top 50. Illinois, Minnesota and Ohio each had five distributors calling them home, while New York had four. Nine other states appeared at least two times on the list, leaving nine states with a single distributor.
- This year’s Top 50 Distributors employed nearly 8,000 people. InnerWorkings employed 2,000, while Discount Mugs.com and Fully Promoted/EmbroidMe employed 1,100 and 930, respectively. Of the Top 50, the distributor with the smallest staff was The Printing, Fulfillment and Mailing Group LLC at four employees. Fifteen of the Top 50 Distributors had a staff size in the triple digits or greater.
- The top five vertical markets for distributors on our list were Health Care (listed 23 times); Financial (listed 17 times); Retail (listed 13 times); Manufacturing (listed 11 times); and Education (listed nine times).
We congratulate each company that made the list and can’t wait to see what the future holds for the industry. Cheers to profitable partnerships in 2020!
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.